As a producer, Chris “Big Dog” Davis has worked with the likes of musical icons like Brian McKnight, George Clinton, Syleena Jonson and Will Downing, to name a few. To date, he’s produced 17 #1 hits on the contemporary jazz charts.
After being diagnosed with a second bout of lymphoma in January of 2020, he decided it was time to step out from behind the curtain and let the world meet him as he takes center stage with his debut album, Focus.
The expression goes that an artist gets their entire life to work on their first album. With a life that started with falling in love with music at the age of four, falling out of love with it and joining the U.S. Marine Corps and two exhausting battles with stage four lymphoma, Davis surely has a lot to say.
BlackDoctor.org took a moment to check in with “Big Dog” about how his medical journey has influenced his music, how his diagnosis has impacted his life and for any advice for listeners who may be experiencing similar battles.
How long would you say you’ve been working on Focus? What inspired it?
Chris “Big Dog” Davis: I was confronted with lymphoma in January and it was looking kind of grim. So I wanted to do something if I was going to leave here. I wanted to do something that I have put my place, not just as a producer, but to put something out. So I did this record going through chemo, the whole nine yards man. So yeah. This record’s real special.
This is actually my second time [battling lymphoma]. I went through a diagnosis with lymphoma stage four in 2010 and it came back 10 years later, vicious, in January. I just had a PET scan yesterday, man. So we praying that results come back well.
What’s your journey been like in the second battle against lymphoma?
Davis: Well, this one has been tough. The first one, 10 years ago was different. It was outpatient. The new one, this new medication that they have, it’s pretty serious. So it beat me up, man. And it still is. This has been 60 days since my last chemo. And I’m just beginning to come around. It was interesting going through that and doing an album at the same time.
How has your diagnosis impacted how you make music, whether that be logistically with how you actually make it or just from a creative standpoint?
Davis: That’s why the album is called Focus, I had to focus in this process. I got songs like, “It’s All Love” because that’s my saying. I have songs like “You are Loved,” meaning that you are loved no matter what you’re going through. And then I have the famous songs I love is called “One Day at a Time.” And that was my focus in going through this situation one day at a time.
The chemo and the whole lymphoma thing really zeroed me into this record because that was the only thing I had. So I zeroed in on the music and it healed me. It’s healing me, this record Focus.
It’s very clear that you have high spirits and a great perspective on this whole situation. How did you achieve that and what advice do you have to anyone else going through a similar experience so they can have the same?
Davis: Well, you’ve got to have a warm inside and be optimistic and positive. But cancer, it’s tough to beat. As you go through the process, you got to live, man. That’s what I learned. You got to live because if you don’t live, then the process is going to get you.
Father’s Day is around the corner and it’s actually a few days before this album actually comes out. Is there a message that you would like to share for other fathers out there?
Davis: Yes. The message that I have and I was telling my good friend, Rhoda, the song off of the record is that I had mentioned that “You are Loved.” To all the fathers, we go through a lot. We have to hold the house down. There’s a lot we got to hold down as men.
Sometimes we don’t feel like we’re loved. Sometimes we just feel like the other spouse or the other partner or the people around us just don’t get it. So, there’s a song that says just that, “You are Loved.” At the end of the day, they are loved through their kids, their parents, to loved ones and everything. So that’s what I’d like to say about for Father’s Day. You are loved no matter what you’re loved.
Focus will be made available for stream and purchase on June 26, 2020.